49th anniversary of the first Shatner-Nimoy pairing

Napoleon Solo has to steady an "innocent" who's had too much to drink

Solo helps an “innocent” who’s had too much to drink

This month marks the 49th anniversary of the first pairing of actors William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy. On Nov. 24, 1964, two years before Star Trek, Shatner was the featured guest star on The Man From U.N.C.L.E., with Nimoy as a supporting player.

The episode was The Project Strigas Affair, in which U.N.C.L.E. agents Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin (Robert Vaughn and David McCallum) are assigned to bring down a leading diplomat of an unnamed nation that’s causing major friction between the U.S. and Soviet Union.

Strigas is one of the highlights of the show’s first season, and not for being the answer to a Shatner-Nimoy trivia question. Strigas is almost like a blueprint for Mission: Impossible (which also didn’t debut until 1966); the viewer is only given teases of the Solo-Kuryakin plan. The U.N.C.L.E. operatives also have to improvise to keep the scheme on course.

Shatner gets the primary guest star billing because he’s the “innocent” of the story, a man who departed a high-paying corporate job to start his own pest-extermination business. U.N.C.L.E. utilizes the man’s background as part of the plan. Nimoy is the deputy of the targeted diplomat (Werner Klemperer).

Shatner and Nimoy actually don’t have that many scenes together. One occurs during a party where Shatner’s Michael Donfield is supposed to be a little tipsy (and talkative, to further the trap) but may have gotten into his part too much.

A disguised Illya about to spring the trap

A disguised Illya helps to entice the target of the affair

Strigas (short for “strike gas,” the supposed name of a secret operation) was the first of 11 Man episodes directed by Joseph Sargent, one of the best directors to work on the series. Based on Strigas, it’s easy to see why Sargent was brought back repeatedly. Sargent would helm U.N.C.L.E. episodes into the third season.

Finally, the episode has what seems to be an amusing in-joke. McCallum’s Kuryakin spends much of the episode disguised as a young Leon Trotsky. While Kuryakin was Russian (and U.N.C.L.E. an international organization), the show was always careful to keep the references low key.

To long-time U.N.C.L.E. fans, this is old hat. But with The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie now in production, The Project Strigas Affair is an episode potential new fans should check out.

Season one episodes of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. on

The Project Strigas Affair entry on IMDB.COM

Col. Klink IS Ernst Stavro Blofeld!

Today, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea is remembered as part of producer Irwin Allen’s collection of 1960s science-fiction (or in the eyes of some critics schlock) TV shows. And, of course, for 007 fans, it’s where two-time Felix Leiter David Hedison was a star. But in its first season, 1964-65, it had some spy themes.

One such episode was the show’s pilot, written and directed by Allen himself. It features a villain that evokes Ernst Stavro Blofeld’s early appearances in the James Bond film series of a shadowy mastermind.

Well you can watch that episode on Hulu by CLICKING RIGHT HERE. The voice certainly sounds like actor actor Werner Klemperer, who’d gain his greatest fame as Col Klink in Hogan’s Heroes. In fact, despite being in shadows, he LOOKS like Klemperer/Klink as well.

UPDATE: At the 34:17 mark, there’s a close-up of the mystery villain. Despite the shawdows, it defintiely looks like Klemperer. Yet, at the 35:40 mark or so, it appears character actor Theo Marcuse (1920-1967) is playing the mystery leader.

UPDATE II: Marcuse is credited in the end titles as “Dr. Gamma” but a close look shows he and Klemperer were doing the same role. There’s also a James Bond connection: the film editor of the episode is John W. Holmes, one of two film editors credited in Diamonds Are Forever.